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Dr. Christian K.
Dr. Christian K., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 10146
Experience:  12 year of veterinary experience in feline surgery, medicine and behavior
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Why is my cat losing weight rapidly?

Resolved Question:

My cat has been losing weight rapidly. She's skin and bone and now having difficult with movement. It seems as though she's losing muscle mass. She appears to be eating and drinking, but still is losing weight. Can you give me an idea as to what could be wrong?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Christian K. replied 8 years ago.

Is she vomiting or having diarrhea? Does she drink a lot of water or urinate more often?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I've notice one sign of vomiting, my daughter thinks twice, but nothing consistent or continuous. Her litter box does not appear to have an excess of urine and there's no diarrhea. Her stool is and always has been quite solid. She's extremely finicy when it comes to eating. She won't eat wet food. I tried to give her soft dry food thinking maybe she was having teeth problems, but she refuses to eat that. So I just keep an ample supply of her regular dry food readily available for her.
Expert:  Dr. Christian K. replied 8 years ago.

There are several conditions we have to be concerned about that can cause your cat to lose weight.

1. Hyperthyroidism- This is caused by a tumor in the thyroid gland that causes overproduction of thyroid hormone. It causes a cat to have a very high metabolism. The tumor does not spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms are eating with weight loss, vomiting, increased thirst and urination, diarrhea, fast heart rate and heart diseases. It is a very treatable condition with medication or radiation treatment. Diagnosis is by bloodwork.

2. Diabetes- Diabetes is a lack of control of blood sugar. The blood sugar becomes very high. The symptoms are weight loss, increased urination and thirst, more prone to infections, occasional vomiting and eventually loss of appetite and weakness. Treatment is usually a diet change and insulin injections. It is diagnosed with bloodwork and sometimes a urinalysis.

3. Kidney Disease- Kidney failure is very common in cats and is a condition that is not curable but certainly can be treated to improve a cat's quality of life. Symptoms include weight loss, vomiting, increased urination and thirst, and lack of appetite. Diagnosis requires bloodwork. Treatment usually includes diet changes, fluids and sometimes medications to improve anemia or lower phosphorous levels.

4. Cancer- Cancer is a common condition as well and can cause a varied list of symptoms including weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy and lack of appetite. Some cancers are more treatable than others depending on the type.

5. Inflammatory Bowel Disease- Inflammation of the wall of the intestine will cause a decreased capacity to digest food leading to malnourishment. Symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss and vomiting. This is sometimes caused by a food allergy. Diagnosis is usually made with an intestinal biopsy but many times treatment is prescribed to monitor for improvement. Treatment usually involves steroids, diet changes and sometimes antibiotics.

6. Liver Disease- Liver disease can be caused by cancer, infection or inflammation (hepatitis). The symptoms include weight loss, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes a yellow appearance to the skin called icterus or jaundice. Diagnosis usually starts with bloodwork but final diagnosis of the cause usually requires ultrasound and a biopsy. Treatment includes diet changes, possibly antibiotics, and liver medications to help improve its health and function. Treatment is also specific to the cause of the liver dysfunction.

7. Feline leukemia and feline aids viruses- These viruses are spread from other cats through bodily fluids. Unfortunately they are not curable and ultimately deadly. Common routes of transmission include bite wounds and from mother to kitten. Simple blood tests can diagnose these diseases and vaccines are available. Treatment is usually supportive such as fluids and medications to help appetite.

If your cat has been tested for leukemia and aids and is not any outdoor cat than it is less likely these are the cause of the problem. While she is not showing some of the symptoms for these conditions sometimes the only symptom in the beginning would be weight loss. I would recommend taking her to your vet. Some simple bloodwork can be very effective in determining whether any of these conditions are causing the problem. If you have more questions or concerns please let me know.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
There's no diarrhea or excessive thirst. She's an indoor cat with only an occassional trip to the balcony (3rd floor apt) where she's begun licking the concrete! We can't figure why she would do that. It seems as though she hurts when we touch her. She walks gingerly and it takes longer for her to simply lay down, due to what appears to be pain? She's not very active anymore either. This evening, her only movement is stepping from a blanket to the tile floor. My concern is that we won't be able to get her to the vet quick enough. Does this sound like she's in need of urgent care?
Expert:  Dr. Christian K. replied 8 years ago.

I'm sorry. I misunderstood and didn't realize this had come on so suddenly for her. Certainly pain would cause some of the symptoms you are seeing. Abdominal pain and arthritis are some possibilities for that. However, some of these conditions I've described could also cause weakness and neurological conditions and loss of muscle mass. If she is that weak then I would take her to a vet tonight if possible. It does concern me if she is that weak and it came on that sudden as you've described. Fluids and pain meds may be necessary to get her feeling better temporarily while you figure out the root of the problem.

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